Following the success stories of the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, Lesotho has hailed the programme with expectations that it will yield more horticulture products.
Characterised with climate-smart agriculture, APPSA will see Lesotho focusing on horticulture products, including vegetables, fruits and potatoes among several others.
Information shows that the APPSA programme, which was launch in Maseru, Lesotho, two weeks ago, is expected to increase agriculture technologies in horticulture which will improve agriculture production despite the climate change that is striking the region.
Adapting the same concept with the other three countries, Lesotho’s Ministry of Agriculture will implement the APPSA under the Department of Agricultural Research in tandem with other local research stations within the ministry.
In a statement, Dr Lefulesele Lebese, Director of Agricultural Research in the Ministry of Agriculture-Lesotho said, “APPSA intends to send up centres of leadership in horticulture which will be informed by research from the University of Lesotho and other neighbouring countries in the region. The programme will also support the upgrading of infrastructure in research of institutions as well as strengthen the institutional capacity of the research stations so that they are capacitated to generate technologies that support sustainable agricultural productivity and improve the country ‘s food and nutrition security,” he said.
The development comes at a time where Lesotho is lagging behind in agricultural productivity with only 30% locally produced agricultural products. The country currently depends on other countries for the supply of the remaining 70%, and as a results the agriculture sector only contributes slightly under 3% to the country’s GDP.
Lesotho, like other Southern African countries, has not been spared from the effects of climate change which is negatively affecting agricultural production in the region. The region is now experiencing intensive and shorter rain season leading to increased level of food insecurity and poverty in the region. Therefore, APPSA comes as a rescue mission to cushion all these challenges that Lesotho is struggling with as the programme also comes with climate-smart agricultural practices.
In Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, APPSA programme is focusing on maize seed cropping systems, rice research and food legume cropping based systems respectively.
The APPSA programme is a brainchild of the World Bank and is being coordinated and facilitated by the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA).
It was established in 2013 where each participating country was given a loan facility of approximately US$30 million which comes in batches. The six-year programme is expected to end on January 31, 2020.
According to CCARDESA, the Lesotho APPSA programme is a six-year programme with $20 million fund from the World Bank that will be issued in batches.
CCARDESA is optimistic that Lesotho will make notable strides in this horticulture agriculture and have a positive impact on the rest of the Southern African region.
Information from CCARDESA also shows that the World Bank representative, Janet Entwistle, reaffirmed her commitment to support Lesotho in attaining food security and increase agricultural productivity.